Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Rhus copallinum

Winged sumac, Shining sumac, Flameleaf sumac, Mountain sumac, Dwarf sumac, Wing-rib sumac, Black sumac, Upland sumac

Anacardiaceae (Sumac Family)

Rhus copallinum (Winged sumac)
Vick, Albert F. W.
Winged sumac is a large, deciduous shrub or small tree, 20-35 ft. tall, with short, crooked trunks and open branching. Glossy, dark-green, pinnately compound leaves turn reddish-purple in the fall. Yellowish-green flowers are succeeded by drooping, pubescent, pyramidal fruit clusters which turn dull red and persist through winter. It is easily distinguishable from other sumacs by the winged leaf axis and watery sap. Often forms thickets.

Image Gallery:

23 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Pinnate
Leaf Shape: Lanceolate
Leaf Margin: Entire
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual
Inflorescence: Panicle
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: 20-25
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Individual plants normally have only male or female flower, not both. Some plants may have both, some male flowers have non-functional pistils and some female flowers have non-functional stamens.
Fruit: Dark red. 1/8 inch long.
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , IA , KS , KY , LA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MS , MO , NE , NH , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VT , VA , WV , WI , DC
Native Distribution: S. ME to s. MI & MO, s. to FL & e. TX
Native Habitat: Dry hillsides; open woods; prairies; thickets Found in scrub on limestone outcrops and rocky slopes, prairies, plains, and in sandy woodlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Rocky, poor soils.
Conditions Comments: Shining sumac is a very ornamental sumac. Because of its large, spreading habit, is not suited to small areas. Native sumacs are important wildlife plants, providing winter food for many upland gamebirds, songbirds, and large and small mammals. They are fast growing, generally pest and disease-free, and drought-tolerant. Colonies are often single-sexed, formed from a single, suckering parent. Only female plants produce berries, which are not as showy as those of R. typhina and R. glabra.


Use Ornamental: Winged Sumac is sometimes planted as an ornamental for its shiny leaves and showy fruit.
Use Wildlife: Winter food for many upland gamebirds, songbirds, and large and small mammals. Wildlife eat the fruit, and deer also browse the twigs.
Use Food: The sour fruit can be nibbled or made into a drink like lemonade.
Attracts: Birds

Last Update: 2015-11-05